Thursday, August 9, 2012

Threats and possible attempt against the life of the Secretary of the Governing Board of the Steelworkers' Union

An incident that raises many questions

A strange incident that gives rise to many questions occurred yesterday morning. The secretary of the Greek Steel-Industry Worker’s Union, Nassos Pavlakis, had a motorcycle accident while riding to work, which resulted in minor injuries.

At about 6:15 am, N. Pavlakis was riding his motorcycle from Keratsini to the Steel-Industry, via Skaramagka avenue. When he had reached the end of the bridge that leads to Athens-Corinth avenue, and before entering the avenue, he rode through a mass of petroleum on the concrete and fell off his vehicle, ssuffering a strain injury. After Traffic Police examined the scene of the accident, it was verified that gasoline was indeed spilt on the spot. Petroleum is especially dangerous for motorcycle riders, in comparison to other types of oil, because it is transparent and much more difficult to spot. Immediately after the unionist’s accident, another scooter-driver fell off his vehicle, while the driver of a large motorcycle who rode by afterwards maintained his balance. This suggests that the petroleum spill was “fresh” when N. Pavlakis was driving by.

It should be noted that:

According to N. Pavlakis testimony to the Radical, he had been receiving anonymous, threatening phone-calls from a coded number at his home telephone. The frequency of these calls was intensified during the last ten days. In the phone calls, he was told to “Be careful, because you are a good guy after all,” “Watch your behavior,” “Watch who you talk to,” etc.

The night before his accident, he received three such calls –the first one at 7 pm and the last one at 9:45 pm. In the first call, around 7pm, he was told to “Be careful while you are riding because you are a nice guy and you have a family;” the unknown caller then hang up the phone. In the second call, around 8:30 pm, he was told the “The road is dangerous” before the phone was hung up again. In the third call, a few minutes before 10 pm, he was told that “On the road, this morning, danger will come” before the anonymous caller shut the phone once more. While these calls took place, the unionist was receiving more calls at his mobile phone from an encrypted number, to which he didn’t reply.

All this gives rise to serious questions.

Translated by: Baron Cosimo
Translation edited by: Lenin Reloaded
Video: Nasos Pavlakis interviewed during the second month of the strike. From the blog:

Christopher Dreier-Greek government launches mass round-up and deportation of immigrants

Greek government launches mass round-up and deportation of immigrants
By Christoph Dreier
9 August 2012

Just a week after the Greek government announced €11.5 billion in new cuts in social spending, 4,500 police officers in ​​bullet-proof vests, accompanied by Alsatian dogs, took to the streets of Athens to hunt down foreign-looking people.

Some 6,000 were taken into custody. Of those arrested, 1,400-2,000 were imprisoned and are set to be deported to their home countries.

According to eyewitness reports published in the Guardian newspaper in Britain, the police teams acted with the utmost brutality. Police are said to have randomly stopped foreign-looking individuals and packed them into windowless buses. After several hours, the officers searched them and checked their papers. Those who could produce a residency permit were released; all others were taken to police stations and a temporary detention facility near Athens.

Eight-eight Pakistanis were summarily deported on Sunday.

Other reports speak of humiliating scenes in which the victims had to spend hours kneeling on the ground. There are reports of violent attacks by police officers on detainees.

The representative of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in Athens, Petros Mastakas, pointed out that the police action violated the rights of immigrants. “It is very difficult, practically impossible, for asylum seekers to apply for protected status, and we are concerned that there may be among those arrested people who want protection but were unable to submit their requests,” he said.

“Operation Xenios Zeus”, as the mass deportation is called, is part of a broader campaign against refugees. Since April, there have been constant mass raids leading to arrests and deportations. In July alone, 819 people were deported from Greece.

By the end of the year, the government plans to build eight deportation camps where up to 10,000 people can be interned. Greece has not witnessed such mass arrests and use of prison camps since the Colonels’ dictatorship of 1967-1974. At that time, thousands of workers and youth were arrested, tortured and shipped off to concentration camps on the islands of Leros and Gyaros.

The minister responsible for civil protection, Nikos Dendias of the conservative New Democracy, denounced refugees seeking asylum as worse than the German troops who invaded Greece during World War II. Speaking to Skai TV, he described them as “occupiers” who have turned the country into an “immigrant ghetto”.

“We’re losing the country,” he said. “What is happening now is [Greece’s] largest invasion ever.” These words could have been spoken by a representative of the fascist party Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn), which won nearly seven percent of the vote in the last election and is represented for the first time in the Greek parliament.

Chrysi Avgi, whose members use the Nazi salute and sport a modified swastika, have played a central role in witch-hunting immigrants. Reports of brutal attacks on immigrants by members or supporters of the party are growing.

There are close links between the security forces and Chrysi Avgi. The Greek newspaper To Vima reports that over half of all police officers voted for the fascist party. Recently, a member of Chrysi Avgi received the support of 41 deputies in the election for deputy parliamentary speaker. Since the party itself has only 18 seats, at least 23 deputies from other parties supported the fascists.

A report by Human Rights Watch from July raises the suspicion that the attacks on immigrants are semi-official actions. According to the report, police officers often turn a blind eye when they are confronted with evidence of violence and even stand idly by when immigrants are assaulted. Undocumented immigrants are “routinely discouraged from making official complaints,” the report states. The police have told some victims they “have to pay a fee to file a complaint.”

The organization Expel Racism has received hundreds of reports of people being beaten up while the police stood by. According to anti-racism activist Thanassis Kourkoulas, police officers beat up immigrants in police stations, and local residents who complain about immigrants are given the phone number of Chrysi Avgi.

Operation Xenios Zeus has the backing of the European Union. For years the EU has criticized the lack of border controls in Greece. A significant number of illegal immigrants come into the EU via the Turkish-Greek border.

In 2003, the EU adopted the Dublin II regulations. Since then, a refugee who enters the EU without a valid visa can lodge an asylum claim only in the country of entry. This means Greece is not only committed to secure the EU external border, but also to prevent onward travel by asylum seekers to other EU countries. Under this regulation, immigrants have been repeatedly deported from Germany back to Greece.

The European Commission hailed the mass arrest of immigrants. “The Commission has encouraged the Greek government to improve their border management and to step up the controls at their borders for several months,” said a spokesman.

Operation Xenios Zeus is directed not only against refugees, but against the entire Greek and European working class. The anti-immigrant agitation and repression are, in the first instance, meant to serve as a reactionary diversion from the savage austerity measures being imposed on the working class and considerable sections of the middle class. In the face of mass popular opposition to the policies of the government and the Greek and European ruling classes, the bourgeoisie is seeking to “change the subject” and incite racism and chauvinism in order to split the working class.

The terrorizing of immigrants is at the same time aimed at intimidating the working class, while strengthening the state apparatus and promoting fascist forces in preparation for mass repression against political and social opposition.

In Greece and other European countries, there is growing resistance by the working class to the austerity measures of the EU. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the trade unions and allied pseudo-left organizations such as Syriza and Antarsya to divert social anger into harmless channels. To continue the attacks, the ruling elites must turn to methods of open repression.

Just weeks ago, police violence was used to crush a strike by steel workers at a plant near Athens. Last Sunday the police attacked a demonstration against the construction of a gold mine in Halkidiki, using rubber bullets and tear gas.

The government recently made changes in the military leadership to ensure the loyalty of the troops. For years the Army has held maneuvers preparing the soldiers for the suppression of riots.

Greek and European workers must defend immigrants against the attacks of the government and the police. This is an integral part of the struggle against the austerity measures that are destroying the livelihoods of broad social layers.

Photos: Selected by Lenin Reloaded, via Google Images

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Radical-Messages of Solidarity from all around the World

The Radical, 25 June 2012
Heroic Struggle of The Striking Steelworkers
Messages of solidarity from all around the world

Messages of solidarity for the heroic struggle of the steelworkers have been sent from trade unions and other organisations, political parties, from various countries in the world. Specifically messages have been sent by :

Trade Union International Metal (TUI Metal) of the WTFU. The General Union of Palestine Workers. Usb Italia. Stockholm's Metro Trade Union. Catalonia's trade union coordination (Coordinadora Obrera Sindica). Trade union front of Canary Islands (Frente Sindical Obrero de Canarias). Pensioners' central trade union of Spain (Central Sindical Unitaria Pensionistas Estado Espanol). Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union Ireland. Danish Committee of Solidarity to the Steelworkers. Youth organisation REBELL in Germany.

Political Parties
Labour Party of Belgium. Communist Party of Serbia. Communist Party of Pakistan. Labour Party – EMEP Turkey.

Formal protest to the Greek Consulate in Melbourne
A formal protest was carried out in the Greek General Consulate in Melbourne, Australia yesterday morning by a delegation of trade unionists which gave a complaint resolution of the Federation of Greek Progressive Labour Associations of Australia. Moreover solidarity messages to the struggle of the steelworkers have been expressed by a number of bodies of the trade union movement of Australia.

Protest in London
On Monday a formal protest took place in the Greek embassy in London, organised by Greek immigrants, the organisations of KKE and KNE (Communist Party of Greece and Communist Youth of Greece). A delegation from the trade union RMT (Workers in transportations, railroads, ships) participated and delivered a letter of complaint signed by the General Secretary of the trade union Bob Crow, to the Greek ambassador.

Among the attendants were friends and members of Tunteh of Iran (Illegal Communist Party), from the “Etachind” movement in Tunisia, the co-ordinator of the Communist Parties in Britain and the Women's Committee, members of the Union of Communist Youth of Cyprus. In the end the protesters posted on the door complaints their resolutions and letters of complaint as the embassy refused to receive them, with the pretense of being closed, though they had time to call the British police to supposedly … restore order.

Translated by: Yannis Tembelis
Translation edited by: Lenin Reloaded

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Days of Strike-The Documentary

A documentary on the strike produced by the "Ellinofreneia" team. For foreign language translation, press cc and choose language. Released when the strike was still only in its third month (it lasted for nine).

Greek Steel Workers Strike - Greece on the verge of revolution? Think again...

Greek Steel Workers Strike - Greece on the verge of revolution? Think again...
Date: Tue, 2012-07-31 16:11

Undoubtedly, Greece is the country that has suffered the most during this last and totally unrestrained wave of liberalization and fierce devaluation of labour which has been sweeping Europe since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. At the same time there are a multitude of political anti-systemic oppositional forces which have managed to maintain a living presence in Greek society.

What this looks like is everything from a widespread network of anarchist/autonomous groups of various flavours, growing in numbers after the 2008 December riots to the network for Inclusive Democracy across to the Greek Communist Party. The Greek Communist Party are one of the few European communist parties not seduced by social-democratic Sirens, still adhering to the communist principles (at least at the rhetorical level) and with a consistent presence in the Parliament. One would be tempted to assume that this situation would turn Greece into a hotbed of revolutionary activity. In fact, there are many, especially among the left-wing intellectuals from abroad, who seem all too willing to make this assumption, thereby creating an image of Greece going through a pre-revolutionary stage.

Of course this is untrue, and it makes no difference to the people who suffer whilst academics dream of revolutions on foreign horizons. What is even more striking though is that none of the above mentioned groups has gathered much attention during this imaginary creation of the “Greek People’s Republic”. Instead, it is SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) that has been hailed as the possible saviour of Europe, a conglomerate of leftist groups for which the term Left would apply only by a very loose interpretation of the word whereas the term Radical only serves as an marketing trick, showing once again the growing gap between signifiers and significants in this post-modern world of crumbling meanings.

Just before the second round of elections in June, Slavoj Zizek was invited to give a talk at a SYRIZA meeting and as was expected, he charmed his audience by employing all his usual rhetorical devices. When asked about the Communist Party of Greece, he replied that these people are dead but they don’t know it yet. Accusing a pro-Soviet communist party of exhibiting the stiffness of a dead body might of course sound like preaching to the converted. However, doing so among a bunch of social democrats who have failed to sense the stinking odour of the rotting body of Social Democracy sounds like a twisted Monty Python joke.

Back to basics

A few kilometres away from this SYRIZA meeting, in an industrial suburb of the greater area of Athens, about 400 steel workers were into the seventh month of their strike. These are workers who have to work in dangerous conditions such as amongst molten streams of steel which sometimes might find its way on their bodies. If they are lucky, they might get away with some burns. If they are not, they simply die. They were running one of the longest strikes in modern Greek history which mainstream media had carefully chosen not to cover. Needless to say, Slavoj didn’t bother to pay them a visit.

Before the start of the financial crisis, the Greek Steel Industry was considered to be one of the largest Greek industries in terms of sales among those that were not in the stock exchange market. Comprising of two sites, one in Athens and another one in Thessaly, a region about 300 kilometres to the north of Athens, it had a revenue of more than €320 million, employing almost 1000 workers. Its actual production had risen during the past 20 years to about 1 million tons of steel per year and it kept rising at the time that the strike began.

In October 2011 the company announced to the workers that it faced financial difficulties, i.e. a significant reduction of sales since the start of the crisis and presented them with a choice. In order to cut down costs, they would either have to accept a five-hour workday, accompanied by a reduction of their wages by 40% or 180 of them would be fired. In order to see this dilemma in its true perspective, it is worth noting that the monthly wage starts at 900 Euro for a newly hired, inexperienced worker and goes up to no more than 1500 for a worker with decades of experience, working overtime, during weekends and on night-shifts.

Faced with this dilemma, the 400 workers at the Athens site decided to respond in their own way and after a general assembly they voted for a strike which nobody believed would last that long. The atrophied major unions (GSEE for those working in the private sector and ADEDY for those in the public sector) have made a habit of calling for strikes which almost always have a more or less symbolic character, lasting no more than 24 or 48 hours. However, this time the workers assembly showed an unusual determination which of course forced the company management to take the offensive and soon afterwards the first layoffs were announced. 38 people were initially fired, a practice that the managers kept escalating as the workers showed no signs of submission. At the time that this article is being written, this number has risen to 120 fired workers. Besides these sackings, the company has made use of a number of other aggressive tactics, from using strike-breakers to split the workers to arresting the president of their assembly and even bringing the case to court which ruled the strike as illegal. A host of establishment journalists didn't miss the chance to follow suit once again, demanding that the government be firm in enforcing the law and bring things back to normality so that the company's problems could be discussed in a "rational", "responsible" and "civilized" way. At present, the company does not seem willing to step back from its initial decision, even though a number of workers no longer wish to be hired again and the rest of them have suggested to the company that only 40 of them should be hired immediately and the rest can return to their jobs gradually.

A walk among the ruins of the unions

The current stalemate situation deserves a closer look since, in certain respects, it epitomizes all the contradictions that plague the unions, their structure and the means they employ for their struggle (assuming of course that their goal is to fight for the interests of the workers, an assumption not at all self-evident). What has allowed the steel workers to keep their fight going for more than 8 months now is a substantial wave of solidarity and (material and financial) support that they have received from various groups and individuals, even from other countries. On the other hand, the company has managed to survive the strike due to the fact that the workers' representatives at the Thessaly site chose to answer the dilemma posed by the company's management by accepting lower wages and reduced work hours. Anyone can guess the outcome of this struggle, in case there's no further escalation on the part of the workers. The company, considered to be the spearhead of changes in the Industry which attempt to lower labour costs, will probably have the final say.

An important difference between the two sites: in Thessaly, the workers society is led by groups affiliated with the ruling parties in Greece (New Democracy and PASOK) whereas in Athens its president is a member of PAME, a syndicalist organization with links to the Greek Communist Party. Therefore, an obvious explanation for the division among the workers at the two sites is that the ones in Thessaly are represented by corrupt unionists with interests identified more with those of their bosses than those of the workers they are supposed to represent whereas the ones in Athens have managed to attain a pure working class consciousness. Of course that is an oversimplified analysis, the truth is however, much more complex. A few words about the structure of the unions in Greece are necessary at this point. Compared to the charade of the general elections in the so-called states of representative democracy, the situation in the unions, over which the workers should in theory have more control, has come to a level of almost surrealist absurdity. In the last round of elections in Greece, a country with traditionally high percentages of participation in elections, almost 40% of the electorate chose not to vote at all (not including all the immigrants without any electoral rights). According to a study, 52% of the Greek workers say that workers assemblies do not even exist at their workplaces. It is estimated that almost 75% of the workers do not belong to any unions at all. As if this number did not sound scary enough, try adding the hundreds of thousands of unemployed. And then add all the illegally employed. What about the temporarily employed?

On top of this, the overwhelming majority (more than 90% !!) of the members of the executive boards of GSEE and ADEDY work for the public sector whose workers are protected by more safety nets (e.g. until very recently public servants could not be fired). What is more important though is that this striking imbalance reflects the very structure of the Greek state itself (and therefore Greek capitalism) which has been built upon the selective “donation” of benefits among several special interest groups within the public sector resembling in certain respects the tribal divisions in countries of the periphery where capitalism has been forcefully imposed upon heterogeneous populations. Needless to say, this is a poisonous situation that gives rise to fierce conflicts by essentially turning these dependent groups into beggars of the great Father figure of the state and competitors for its benefits.

Another factor that has alienated workers from the unions over the past decades can be traced to their internal organization. As has already been mentioned, the very first division among workers is introduced by the existence of two completely separate high-level organizations, one for the public servants and another one for those working at the private sector. These so-called third-level organizations cover the entire geographical area in Greece and are led by their respective boards whose members are elected among several groups with links to the established political parties, a process not dissimilar to the one for the parliamentary elections. Below them, at the second level, there exist the confederations, divided according to geographical area or type of work and at the base of this hierarchical structure one finds the first-level societies, attached usually to a specific business or company. As is evident, this structure essentially reproduces the same pathological (and pathetic) situation to be found in the centre of the political scene by introducing multiple vertical and horizontal dividing lines of mediation and representation.

The above mentioned communist PAME, established in 1999, has tried to create a separate and parallel structure, condemning the leaders of GSEE and ADEDY as traitors of the working class. At the same time however, it participates in all of their proceedings and elections without ever attempting to completely disengage itself from them whereas being very selective about whom it chooses to support. Closely following the steps of the Greek Communist Party, it keeps its distance from every movement and struggle over which it has failed to gain absolute dominance while being very efficient at containing whatever it leads at very manageable levels.

The net result of all these machinations amounts to nothing more than the appropriation of workers’ power by the professional unionists at the top into leadership positions who have no problem becoming full-time professional politicians after exhausting all the options of climbing up the Union ladder. It’s sad to think that this happened through a slow and gradual process of self-mutilation which a large part of the working class experienced in an almost masochistic daze of perverted pleasure, accompanied by the administration of the “morphine” of loans, mortgages and the dream of someday moving up to a middle-class status, back in the not so distant days of easy money. This works so long as a significant part of those at the bottom of the hierarchy could maintain a lifestyle of reliable (i.e. zombified) consumers by employing the usual exorcism rituals of condemning the union elites as corrupt before going to the next electronics store to buy the latest gadget. Once again, the most vulnerable part of the working class finds itself in a state of paralyzing division and almost complete helplessness. In this perspective, one may have a better understanding of the deadlock situation of the steel workers, a Gordian knot becoming tighter and tighter each time they (or anyone else in position similar to theirs) attempt to pull on the rope.

In search of alternatives

From our point of view, it is obvious that the raison d’être of the unions, as they are today, has ceased to exist. Now that the European capitalist forces attempt to restructure the European economic zone in order to make it more competitive and catch up with the rest of the existing or emerging economic superpowers, they have no intention of making any compromises when it comes to lowering labour costs. For them, within their own political framework, it is a matter of life or death. The time of the welfare state is over and no return to obsolete forms of Keynesianism or Social Democracy is possible. The Unions, as distributors of “benefits” to and pacifiers of the workers, will probably discover, sooner or later, that they have not only become useless for the workers but that the ruling elites as well have no use for them.

It is therefore imperative that new forms of resistance are developed before it is too late (if it isn’t already). Without going into a very thorough analysis, there are certain steps that the workers can take, if they are to have any chance of surviving the onslaught that is about to hit them (what we’ve seen is just foreplay). No matter how hard or unthinkable this might seem, the workers can make their voices be heard and their presence be felt again in a truly antagonistic manner only if they burn the bridges than still link them with the existing unions and start building their own organizations again, irrespective of whether this move might be declared as illegal. Organizations without all these levels of mediation and at the same time less divided which should accommodate not only those with permanent jobs but also the masses of the unemployed or precariously employed. Organizations that should respond not only reactively and defensively, with strikes and negotiations, but also proactively, by building international (if possible, given the international nature of the current “war”) networks of (material) support that should be automatically activated in cases like those of the steel workers who had to depend on the goodwill of their supporters.

Furthermore, if one understands the current situation as we do, i.e. that the time of compromises is over, then the next logical step is to move towards more radical defence tactics and even take the offensive. We may find one such example in Greece again. Since May 2011, the management of the Industrial Mining company in Thessaloniki (about 500 kilometres north of Athens) has stopped paying its employees, again due to financial difficulties. After months of negotiations and unemployment, the general assembly of the workers reached the following decision. The workers should take over the company and start running it on their own by dividing the shares equally among themselves. No wonder the Confederation of Industry Workers was hostile to this action. You guessed right. It is led by representatives affiliated with the ruling parties.

It is no secret that this kind of workers cooperatives may very well turn into fully assimilated capitalist companies if they try to move towards production on a mass scale while struggling to survive in the existing environment. However, we need to start discovering those few threads that can loosen up the Gordian knot while preparing the sword that will cut through it.

UPDATE 1: After this article was written, the few news media that cover the strike of the steel workers have reported that the company’s management is taking all the necessary legal steps to completely shut down the Athens site.

UPDATE 2: In the early morning hours of July 20, the riot police was called in to force the strikers out of the factory so that it can resume its operation. A week after, the workers’ assembly announced that the strike was over. Let’s hope that this was only the beginning and that this strike will wake up from their deep slumber those parts of the oppressed whose dreams have not yet become serene, quiet and peaceful.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Greek Steelworks union: “Now we have more experience, they will not bring us down”

Greek Steelworks union: “Now we have more experience, they will not bring us down”

In their announcement, the union of Greek Steelworks pointed out:

“Fellow steelworkers,

Yesterday the owner of the company decided to dismiss another six pioneering fellow workers, among them the treasurer of the union. The aim of the employer is to continue terrorising and avenging the steelworkers who have fought a proud and heroic struggle against the company’s anti-worker plans and the dismissal of 120 co-workers.

The aim of the employer is to crush and dissolve our union, so that the workers have no-one to rely on.

The employer and his apparatus are mistaken if they think that after such a struggle the steelworkers are not able to distinguish between their friends and enemies.

Once again, our message to them is that they are going to fail.

We have steeled ourselves and we are strong. Now we have more experience, they will not bring us down.

We are not alone against the employer and his allies, the government, the bourgeois media, the riot police and the entire repressive apparatus. We have our own allies at our side, the class-oriented labour movement and all workers.


The governing body of the union has decided to take action to deal with the employer’s ongoing attacks as well as his intention to impose a near-slavery regime at the plant and carry on with intimidating and reprisal layoffs.

We intend to intervene at the level of the Ministry for Labour and the Ministry for Justice, call for tripartite meetings, bring legal action to reverse the layoffs and call for the intervention of the Athens and Piraeus Bar Associations for backing up our struggle.

The STEELWORKERS will not kneel down. We will stand by our Union and continue to fight for our rights and the daily bread of our children.

Terror shall not pass!”

Translated by: Effie A.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Greek Steelworks – The six workers that had been arrested by riot police for guarding the strike were laid off

Greek Steelworks – The six workers that had been arrested by riot police for guarding the strike were laid off

- The owner of Greek Steelworks dismissed the workers in an effort to intimidate and avenge them
- He sacked one member of the union’s governing body (GB), two deputy members and three pioneering workers
- The managing director and strikebreakers lodged lawsuits against tens of workers
- The aim was to crush the union and impose a regime of intimidation

In an effort to intimidate and avenge the workers, the employer of Greek Steelworks decided to dismiss at least six workers yesterday -one member and two deputy members of the union’s governing body and three pioneering workers- at the same time refusing to pay them compensation, with the aim of crushing the governing body of the Union and impose a regime of fear at the plant.

The six workers had been arrested early in the morning of Friday, July 20th for guarding the strike at the factory gates against the security police, after the New Democracy, PASOK and DIMAR coalition government decided to execute a fierce clampdown plan against the heroic Greek Steelworks strikers, by mobilising public prosecutors and huge police forces that made use of violence, chemicals and arrests in order to offer their services to the industrialist Manesis.

At the same time tens of other workers had to go to the Police Stations of Haidari and Aspropyrgos yesterday afternoon, in order to receive the lawsuits lodged against them by the company’s managing director and chairman of the Board of Directors, Ioannis D. Iliopoulos, and many willing scabs. The lawsuit consisted of 200 pages (!) against each worker allegedly involved in a series of ‘criminal offences’ concerning illegal violence, insult, threats, etc.

A characteristic example is that of worker Panagiotis Papanikolaou who was sacked on the grounds that he had committed perjury at the trial concerning the strike at Greek Steelworks, as he defended the right to strike. In another case, that of Dimitris Liakos, member of the union’s governing body, there are no legal grounds at all, because trade union office confers immunity from dismissal in accordance with Law 1264/82. Such protection can be lifted only if the trade unionist has committed a criminal offence against the employer himself.

Manesis’ target is to crush the union’s governing body
After out-of-court notices and lawsuits, verbal abuse by former scabs and managerial staff, and an arbitrary assignment to the union’s GB members and pioneering workers of tasks not related to their specialisation, Manesis has now dismissed another six workers in an effort to escalate his terrorising practices against all workers, aiming to prepare the ground for removing the protection conferred to union GB members and ultimately sack them and dissolve the union, which is the only body to safeguard the factory workers’ interests.

Besides, his tactics of the past few days after the strike was suspended leave no room for misunderstanding. Having the full support of the New Democracy, PASOK and DIMAR coalition government, Manesis attempts to turn the factory from a place of work into a concentration camp, by wiping out anything that he thinks gets in his way. Giannis Vroutsis, the Minister for Labour, had promised that no worker will lose his job and that the situation will be sorted out as soon as the strike ends both in his private conversations with the union GB members and in his public statements. Similar assurances were given to the steelworkers by Antonis Roupakiotis, the Minister for Justice. It seems, however, that Manesis has other plans.

Source: The Radical, 2 August 2012
Translated by: Effie A.

Communist Party of Greece: Announcement on the terroristic use of lay-offs at the Steelworks

Communist Party of Greece: Announcement on the terroristic use of lay-offs at the Steelworks

The Communist Party of Greece wishes to inform the people of the six new terroristic and vengeful layoffs of pioneer militant steelworkers, which the big capitalist Manesis deployed to damage their indomitable ethos. It is not at all accidental that big capital and its associates have targeted the six workers arrested by the forces of state repression during their violent invasion of the factory gates, after a D.As decision and the PMs commands. Among the six militant workers fired is one member of the Governing Board of the Union and two replacement members of the same Board.

Manesis' uncontrollable aggression, the display of hatred on behalf of his managers and bullies against the heroic steelworkers has the support of the ND-PASOK-DIMAR government, the state apparatus as a whole, the television and newspaper media that serve the plutocracy. The Minister of Labor is multiply exposed and shares responsibility for the new terroristic threats, since he covered up and encouraged the lies and provocations committed against the steelworkers in the name of allegedly protecting the right to work.

The Minister of Justice has political responsibility and cannot remain silent when District Attorneys and other judges function brazenly as Manesis' instruments, participating in the planning of terrorizing and repressing the just struggle of the steelworkers.

This is the democracy of big industry and its servants: threats, slander, brutal terrorism, cynical exploitation of the workers: this is what they wish to see reign in their factories and workplaces. To ensure profit and competitive edge, they demand with every means necessary that workers accept immiseration, subjection and humiliation.

The savage and concerted attack against the heroic workers of the Steelworks must arouse the rage of the people and particularly of the working class, the progressive people. Now is the time to raise the front of class solidarity, class unity and a counter-offensive. The struggle of the steelworkers concerns the entire working class, is an example to all and shows the path of the intransigent class struggle for justice, honor and the victory of the working class.

Translated by: Lenin Reloaded

An orgy of intimidating practices at Greek Steelworks

An orgy of intimidating practices at Greek Steelworks
Using out-of-court notices and provocations, the employer attempts to impose a regime of intimidation
He is engaged in an escalating orgy of intimidating practices ahead of a meeting between a large trade union and Steelworkers delegation and the administration of the Hellenic Labour Inspectorate (SEPE)

Using out-of-court notices, verbal provocations by former strikebreakers and managerial staff, intimidating practices and arbitrary assignment of duties not related to the workers’ specialisation, the owner of Greek Steelworks, N. Manesis, is attempting to demoralise the members of the steelworkers’ union governing body (GB) and several other workers who played a leading role in the 9-month strike.

The workers returned to their posts but the employer did not stop his -utterly unsuccessful- efforts to isolate the union’s GB members and Giorgos Sifonios in particular from the rest of the workers of Greek Steelworks. First he forbade the members of the governing body to walk around the workplace, by way of a personal order issued by the manager of the plant. Moreover, the union’s GB members were practically not allowed to go to their regular posts. Initially their posts were changed and they were assigned different duties, and then they were given the order to go to the union office and remain there until further notice.

On Monday, the workers were asked to work until 5.30pm instead of 2.30pm, i.e. the end of the morning shift, on the grounds they had clocked on at 9.30am, although this was due to the police presence at the gates and inside the factory. At that point the workers’ trust in the union’s governing body was more than evident. As soon as the GB members approached the workers and urged them to leave their posts at the usual time -as they were not in the least responsible for the three-hour delay- the vast majority of the workers responded positively and clocked out at 2.30 pm as usual, despite the managers threatening them to deduct three hours worth of pay from their wages.

The out-of-court notices sent by Manesis: a monument of lies and distortions
Rife with fabrications, the out-of-court notice sent by the employer yesterday to all members of the union’s governing body says: “...following the suspension of the strike, you persistently and unjustifiably refused to carry out the work assigned to you, whereas your overall behavior caused problems in the smooth and unhindered operation of the plant.

Whereas the above-mentioned refusal and your overall behavior constitute a breach of our agreement and the law, we request that you carry out the work assigned to you and refrain from causing problems to the smooth operation of the plant. Otherwise we intend to make use of all the remedies available under our agreement and the law”.

In a letter sent the day before yesterday to the workers’ union along similar lines, the employer of Greek Steelworks claimed that “the suspension of the strike is only a pretext”. In addition, a notice was served by a court bailiff to many workers asking them to visit the Aspropyrgos Police Station and receive information about the content of the allegations made against them in accordance with the Criminal Code.

Meeting between Steelworkers/ trade union representatives and the Hellenic Labour Inspectorate (SEPE)
Facing such an orgy of intimidating and arbitrary practices, the governing body of the Steelworkers’ Union along with a large delegation comprising trade union representatives from the Athens, Piraeus and Elefsina Labour Centres, the Athens, Piraeus and Thriasio Metalworkers’ Trade Unions, the Panhellenic Federation of Metalworkers, the Unions of the Private Sector Workers, the Shop Workers, the Private Health Sector Workers etc., met with Mihalis Halaris, secretary of the Labour Inspection Body at midday yesterday and formally complained about the orgy of intimidating and arbitrary actions practiced at the factory.

Mihalis Halaris promised to call for a labour dispute three-party meeting next week and to send a mixed team to inspect the health and safety conditions at the plant.

Then the delegation requested a meeting with Giannis Vroutsis, the Minister for Labour, who had promised to meet the workers in a telephone conversation with Giorgos Sifonios, leader of the union’s governing body, yesterday morning; however, later at midday the Minister’s head of office said that the Minister was having successive meetings and could not meet the workers.

On top of that, the Minister’s head of office asked the trade unionists to follow a certain procedure that was of course dismissed as ridiculous. Instead of arranging for an appointment with him and the Ministry secretariat immediately, the representatives were actually requested to leave and then call at the office to arrange for a new appointment!

The Governing Board of the Greek Steelworks Union
“The factory is not a concentration camp”
Extracts from the Steelworkers’ reply to Manesis’ lies

In their reply to the out-of-court notice and the letter sent by Manesis to the Union, the governing body of the Greek Steelworks Union pointed out among other things:

“This constitutes a monument of lies and a distortion of truth, by which you try to intimidate the GB members and the workers, prepare the ground to crush the union and impose a regime of fear and arbitrary practices at the workplace.

It is widely known in Greece that when the union’s GB members and the workers arrived on time in order to get into the factory and work on Monday morning, we faced an extraordinary situation. Three riot police vans and hundreds of policemen in full armour were stationed at the factory gates preventing us from entering the factory. It is infuriating to deny that the workers were prevented from getting into the factory when this was broadcast by the media all over the country. The police would not have behaved in this way if your company had not provided its support or at least its consent.

Unfortunately, the attempt of your company to terrorize the workers did not stop when we got into the factory. Many workers were assigned duties that did not match their specialisation; for instance you asked specialised technicians to sweep the factory floor. The invoked “right to give instructions” cannot be enforced arbitrarily, but only in accordance with the law –not martial regulations.

Moreover, the union’s GB members were forced to remain in their office guarded by scabs who used psychological violence and verbal abuse to prevent them from getting out. At the same time, your managers expressly forbade the GB members to visit the factory premises and monitor working conditions or check whether the health and safety regulations were observed.

You wish to intimidate the workers and avenge them for their struggle
Your company has evidently mounted an operation to prepare the ground for removing any protection that the GB members have as trade unionists and ultimately sack them and dissolve the union, because the union is the only means of safeguarding the interests of your factory workers. Your tactics as deployed these past two days show that your intention is to intimidate, avenge and punish the workers for their splendid strike struggle.

Once more, we declare that the plant is a workplace and not a concentration camp, and that your company does not have the right to implement arbitrary, terrorizing and despotic practices as supreme law. The union and its governing body have the obligation to protect the workers’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the labour law and regulations.

We request that you stop your illegal actions immediately; stop hampering the lawful trade union activities; respect the personality and rights of the workers.”

The Radical, 1 August 2012
Translated by: Effie A.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is the Greek Steelworkers' strike "over"? And for whom?

It might be best to being with a terminological issue, which pertains to the reactions towrds the decision to suspend the strike during the 20th General Convention of the Steelworkers' Union. The word is "suspension", not "termination" of the strike, as has already become the customary moniker, with an automatism that is disturbing. It is "suspension" because the workers' demands have not been met, and hence no "termination" can properly be declared. It is important that class-conscious comrades writing on the issue note the difference between these two words.

It is equally important, and immediately connected to this issue, that comrades continue to show interest in the Greek Steelworks and to inform others about the situation there. Because of course, working-class struggles are not soccer games where two teams meet, arrive at a result, and then hit the showers before they go home. The workers who returned to the factory, in the midst of the police clubs of the Riot Police and the microphones of zombie journalists in the employers' service, have also returned to an environment where harsh and health-treatening labor (see reports on radioactive residue in the Volos plant) is being accompanied by the concerted efforts of employment to move the situation to the next step: the isolation of the workers' leaders from the main body and the dissolution of the Steelworks Union. As long as a class-conscious, combative, non-employer bound Union exists, there also exists a permanent threat for Manesis, who knows far better than most that the fire of the Steelworks is not out yet. And it is perfectly natural for him to do all he can to put that fire out.

Neither for Manesis himself, then, nor for the steelworkers, is the class struggle out because the strike has been suspended. And it would be ethically and politically inadmissible for us to behave towards this struggle like the journalists of the mass media, who pick an issue to get hysterical with one day and forget all about it the next. Hence, we will continue to cover the issue of the Greek Steelworks, always from the standpoint of the labor movement, for as long as the factory continues to produce something more than steel: political education and militant unity for the working class.

As for the permanent victims of spectacle, those who have obviously not understood that the strike was not a soccer match that finishes after 90 minutes or 273 days (and have not grasped the fact that labor struggles are not related to the temporality of media perceptions that have come to inform the pseudo-revolutionary pose "I want a solution and I want it now"), they can continue preoccupying themselves with what the idle do: undertake "analyses" of strategy and tactics on the coffee-shop table, along with drinks and snacks. We will have nothing to do with such an understanding of the ethical and political tasks of supporting the struggles of the working class.

Originally published: Lenin Reloaded, 1 August 2012
Translated by: Lenin Reloaded

Die Spendenkampagne von T&P ist beendet

Veröffentlicht am 1. August 2012 0

Auch nach dem Ende des Streiks erfordert es die politische Situation, dass wir nicht nachlassen, Aktionen der Solidarität zu organisieren, wie wir es in unserer Grußadresse formulierten, als der Genosse Udo Paulus 2.500 Euro den Streikenden direkt vor dem Werkstor in Aspropyrgos überreichte. Insgesamt wurden 7.825 Euro gespendet, eine beachtliche Summe, die zeigt, was selbst mit unseren schwachen Kräften möglich ist. Es waren große Beträge von 500 bis 1000 Euro dabei und viele kleine Einzelspenden, die auf der Straße, am 1. Mai, in der Gewerkschaft und in Einzelgesprächen gesammelt wurden.

Aus der Grußadresse von T&P an die griechischen Stahlarbeiter:

„Seid versichert, wir werden weiter solidarisch an eurer Seite stehen.

Aber wir begreifen die Sammlung von Spenden für Eure Streikkasse vor allem auch als Aufgabe des Klassenkampfs im eigenen Land. Wir nutzen sie, um über die Krise und ihre Ursachen, zu denen das verheerende Lohndumping der deutschen Exportindustrie gehört, zu informieren. Unserer Verantwortung gegenüber der griechischen Arbeiterklasse sind wir uns bewusst und wir versuchen, der Hetze der deutschen Regierung und der bürgerlichen Presse entgegenzutreten und die deutsche Arbeiterklasse zum Widerstand gegen die Abwälzung der Krisenlasten auf ihre Schultern zu gewinnen. Das wäre ein erster Schritt zu einem wahrhaften Internationalismus. Die Unterstützung einer kämpfenden Klasse durch Propaganda, durch moralische und materielle Hilfe muss zur Entwicklung des revolutionären Kampfes im eigenen Lande dienen.

Überall, wo sich die Arbeitenden gegen ihre Ausbeuter und Unterdrücker zur Wehr setzen, ist Chalyvourgia !“

Griechische Stahlarbeiter beenden ihren Streik (Theorie & Praxis)

Veröffentlicht am 1. August 2012

Nach 272 Tagen beendeten die griechischen Stahlarbeiter der »Elliniki Chalyvouirgia« in Aspropyrgos auf Beschluss der Vollversammlung der Gewerkschaft des Betriebs am 28.7. ihren Streik.

Doch der Kampf wird trotzdem weiter geführt, die Kolleginnen und Kollegen werden nicht nachlassen. Sie werden sich im Betrieb weiter gegen die Entlassungen und gegen die Arbeitsbedingungen wehren. Die Gewerkschaft wird den Kampf weiter organisieren.

Als sie sich vor 9 Monaten einstimmig für den Streik entschieden, um die Erpressung des Unternehmers für eine 40%ige Lohnkürzung zurückzuweisen, wusste keiner von ihnen, wie lange sie durchhalten würden und welche Entschlossenheit und Kraft sie brauchen würden, um dem Angriff des Unternehmers standzuhalten. Dass sie sich nun entschieden, ihn zu beenden, lag daran, dass sie es nicht mehr allein mit dem Kapitalisten Manesis zu tun hatten, sondern dass nun auch die Regierung, der Premierministers persönlich, eingriff. Nur mit brutaler Repression gelang es, die Streikenden zur Aufgabe zu zwingen. Aber selbst die Stürmung des Werks durch die Polizei konnte sie nicht entmutigen, sie gehen erhobenen Hauptes zurück in den Betrieb.

Sie können zu Recht stolz auf sich und ihren Kampf sein, der international Beachtung fand und eine ungeahnte weltweite Solidarität erfuhr.

Denn der Streik war ein herausragendes Zeichen des Widerstands nicht nur gegen die griechische Bourgeoisie, sondern auch gegen die Verantwortlichen in Berlin und Brüssel. Er zeigte, zu welchen Taten die Arbeiterklasse fähig ist, und sein Beispiel wird in den nun folgenden Monaten wichtig für die weitere Entwicklung des Klassenkampfs sein. Deutlich wird „die Notwendigkeit der raschen Entwicklung einer starken Arbeiterbewegung, die bereit ist, die vielfältigen Angriffe des Kapitals und der EU, sowie der Repressionsapparate abzuwehren.“
So schließt die Erklärung der PAME, die wir hier dokumentieren.

Whip the workers to save the bosses-The Radical, 25 July 2012

ND-PASOK-DIMAR Government:
Whip the workers to save the bosses

The attack in “Halyvourgia” almost monopolised the PM's speech in the parliament group of New Democracy, showing their fear and hate towards class-oriented struggles.

The three party government of ND–PASOK-DIMAR, based on the words of the prime minister, appears to be determined to use the “whip” of state violence and repression to crush the people's and workers' struggles and guarantee the profitability of business groups, escalating the war.

With the unprecedented, dirty and slanderous attack launched against the heroic strikers of “Halyvourgia”, he confirmed beyond any doubt that the real target is the whole working class. At the same time he made it clear that the demolition of labour and insurance rights and the crushing of workers' struggles by any means necessary, is already decided by the government and is a precondition for economic recovery, the renewal of the profitability of the monopolies and the “attraction of investments”.

Basically, with yesterday's speech, A. Samaras placed the right to strike in front of the firing squad. He announced in advance the revocation of those labour and insurance rights that were left standing and openly declared war against the workers who stand up and organise against the antipopular politics and who struggle to overthrow it.

At the same time he reaffirmed the commitment of the three-party government towards its lenders and partners, not only to implement all the brutal and antipopular measures they have jointly decided upon, but to take even more measures! He himself didn't hide that “the new approach of the government is aggressive”, being quick to clarify that what this means is “wherever we can, we will surpass the goals to which we have committed”(!).

Commitments inside and outside of the country
More specifically, Samaras, in his first speech after the policy statements during yesterday's session of the parliament group of ND:

1. Confirmed beyond any doubt that the attack of the riot police against the strikers of Halyvourgia is the “general rehearsal” for the crushing of the people's and workers' struggles by any means necessary. He said provocatively “We showed in the yard of “Halyvourgia” that we mean what we say”, while at the same time he waged a dirty and slanderous war against the strikers, in order to justify the gangster-like attack of the riot police. He shamelessly claimed that “A group of trade unionists had taken over a factory for seven months, keeping from work those who wanted to work and driving hundreds of workers to unemployment. The factory was about to close. We stopped this”.

The attack of the riot police against the strikers of “Halyvourgia” was presented by the prime minister as an important signal of the government during the first month of office, indicating willingness to “regain the country's credibility abroad, something necessary to attract investments, create job positions, regain our competitiveness”

He announced in advance the demolition of the labour rights and the de facto cancellation of the right to strike, in the name of “the right to work”, as they now call strike-breaking and the deployment of employers' mechanisms! With brazen cynicism he claimed: “We have the utmost respect towards the workers' rights. Especially the most sacred one: The right to work! Which was being violated and directly threatened. We restored it. It's that simple”.

At the same time, he clearly suggested that he will be sending the riot police to every factory where the workers strike to defend their rights. He pointedly said “We're sending a clear message everywhere: While we are in this unemployment, trade union practices such as this are used that threaten to close more factories, we will not sit idle looking at desperate workers losing their jobs”.

He also repeated the reactionary position that he expressed before the elections, i.e that he finds it unthinkable for labour and other rights to exist when there is unemployment! He brazenly argued that “labour rights are sacred. But for labour rights to exist there has to be work! If someone is unemployed, his labour rights are revoked in the most brutal way”, brutally distorting reality and attempting to obfuscate that it is capitalism and monopolies that generate unemployment.

In the same spirit and completely shamelessly, he didn't hesitate to present himself as the protector of the unemployed (!) stating shamelessly that “those that supposedly defend the workers' rights by sending them earlier to unemployment are pitiless! They are enemies of the workers and of labour rights” (!) In order to make his fairy tale role as the workers' protector more convincing, he pompously claimed that the government during the four years of office will lower unemployment from 24%, where it stands today, to 10% by destroying once and for all labour relations and splitting a (part-time) job so it can be share by two or even three unemployed persons.

He made it clear that the currently promoted exit plan out of the crisis in favour of the plutocracy will include more brutal and reactionary measures, driving the people to unregulated bankruptcy and poverty. Answering the question of “how we will achieve our goals – what is our plan” made by himself, he noted : “First we will show that the country respects its goals, which are our goals. Then we will show that we can implement everything that has to be done. Then we will show that in order to achieve our goals some things have to change, especially those that aggravate and deepen the recession”.

In this context, he announced in advance sweeping privatisations and the “fast track” selling off of public property. He noted that “We can do more and faster as regards structural changes, privatisations and the utilization of assets. We have already sent this message. And now we have a very limited time to prove that we mean what we say”.

That is exactly why yesterday he rushed to announce the list with the first abolitions and mergers of public institutions. He also mentioned that the government will soon introduce a law which will “drastically limit bureaucracy and everything that drives away investments” in order for “the investors to be able to come to Greece”.

The president of the Commission who is visiting Athens tomorrow, is expected to offer his support in order to “bring the program back in track” towards the government .Tomorrow at noon, the new meeting of the three political leaders who support the government will also take place, in order to decide the measures' package of a total of 3+11.5 billion over the next three years and also the list of the businesses that will be privatized.

Translated by: Yannis Tembelis
Translation edited by: Lenin Reloaded